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In-Vehicle Connectivity Takes the Front Seat Among Automakers

In-car connected services will affect car purchases and marketer pathways

The US in-car audience is massive. More than 105.6 million people drove to work solo in 2011, according to US Census data. This figure represented 76.4% of all employed people in the US over the age of 16. Add in those who carpool and the figure spikes to 86%.

In the next three years, this group will be increasingly available to marketers via in-vehicle smartphone data connections and integrated applications (sometimes referred to in the industry as telematics) developed specifically for use inside an automobile, according to a new eMarketer report, “Connected Cars as the Fifth Screen: A Market of Millions Connected by Asphalt.”

It’s a market automakers are anxious to cater to. In a May 2012 Harris Interactive poll, 58% of car owners said in-auto connectivity will have some or a great deal of influence on their next vehicle purchase. Among those ages 18 to 35, the figure was 67%.

Hands-free solutions to making mobile phone calls are a particular area of focus for automakers, handset-makers and consumers, with an aim toward maintaining phone functionality without forcing drivers to take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.

Navigation systems also tend to be the center attraction for cars with in-dash screens.

By 2016, navigation systems will support 18.7 million subscribers in North America, while smartphone navigation will boast more than 400 million, according to a July 2012 forecast from Frost & Sullivan.

And music listening in another primary connected car activity. Use of smartphone apps for services like Pandora or Spotify for in-car music listening has shown rapid growth, rising from 6% of US mobile phone owners in 2010 to 17% in 2012, according to a survey by Arbitron. Not surprisingly, music services have been an active venue for third-party connected-car partnerships with automakers.

Beyond maps, music and voice communications, consumers express interest in a host of in-car media options, including browsing the internet and watching streaming video. Some of the first forays into this realm are already happening, with services that read news updates, allow Facebook interaction or deliver on-demand content.

But going forward, who will provide these advanced media options?

For the time being, the development pathway starts with the automaker. In a Harris Interactive survey conducted for auto supplier Johnson Controls in December 2012, 84% of vehicle owners said they would like to control infotainment through touchscreen controls in their vehicle.


The full report, “Connected Cars as the Fifth Screen: A Market of Millions Connected by Asphalt” also answers these key questions:

  • Who will develop apps for advanced connected-car functions?
  • How does the in-car media experience differ from other venues?
  • When will the US auto fleet fully incorporate in-car media?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


Check out today’s other articles, “Mix of Digital, Offline Tactics Yields High-Quality B2B Leads” and “Are UK Tech Companies Making Full Use of Social Media?

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